Women in the Director’s Chair at this year’s 35th Annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

Women’s Film Institute is proud to be a community partner at this year’s 35th Annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (July 23 – August 9).


Don’t miss feature documentary The Armor of Light, Abigail Disney’s directorial debut on Tuesday, Jul 28, at 6:30 PM in San Francisco.

It’s not easy to bring fresh light to the polarized debate on guns. But in her breathtaking directorial debut, Abigail Disney takes viewers far above the tired talking points of the NRA. Disney has serious film pedigree: Her grandfather Roy co-founded Disney Studios with his brother Walt. Her documentary is so riveting, some scenes feel straight out of a fiction film. Evangelical minister Schenck is familiar with challenging the status quo: He was raised Jewish, then became an evangelical as a teenager. He rose to prominence in the 1990s as a militant pro-life activist. But troubling encounters with gun violence forced him to ask whether a pro-life position could be consistent with pro-gun. Disney follows him as he explores these questions at gun shows and ministers with stand-your-ground opponents. He eventually teams with Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, an unarmed teenager murdered in Florida whose case has become a landmark in the fight against stand-your-ground laws. His new supporters surprise him as much as the vitriol of his old friends. It isn’t an overreach when Schenck notes parallels between increasing pro-gun extremism, rising gun violence and the Holocaust. As his father once told him, pointing to pictures of the camps, “This is what happens when good people say nothing.”

Director Abigail Disney and subject Lucy McBath in person in San Francisco and Palo Alto.  For more information and to purchase tickets: http://sfjff.org/2015/films/armor-of-light-the/

Don’t miss Blue Vinyl directed by Judith Helfand and Daniel Gold on Friday, July 31st, at 2:30 pm in San Francisco.

Activist filmmaker Judith Helfand, who explored the devastating effects of DES on her own body in A HEALTHY BABY GIRL (SFJFF 1997), is not one to look the other way when a potential toxin gets too close to home. So when her Jewish parents affix vinyl siding to their suburban Long Island abode she gets suspicious. Armed with a big blue slab from a home improvement project, Helfand marches straight to the centers of vinyl production to get the skinny on the seemingly harmless plastics, used to make not only cheap, durable siding but also flooring, toys, credit cards, IV bags, you name it. Taking a personal comedic approach, directors Helfand and Gold brilliantly link unlikely stories and characters across continents, race, and class to uncover the impact of vinyl manufacturing and disposal on the atmosphere, the food chain, and humans. It is not a pretty picture. You will never look at plastic the same way again. http://sfjff.org/2015/films/blue-vinyl/

Judith Helfand In Conversation on Saturday, Aug 1st, at 2:10 PM in Berkeley.
Judith Helfand is not just a filmmaker, she is a force of nature. She co-founded Working Films and Chicken & Egg Pictures supporting social justice filmmakers. Her award-winning films (including Healthy Baby Girl and Blue Vinyl) have premiered at Sundance, aired on PBS and HBO and garnered a Peabody Award. Join us for an onstage conversation and clip show (including her upcoming Cooked ) as we honor her tremendous contribution to the documentary field. For more information and to purchase tickets: http://sfjff.org/2015/events/judith-helfand-in-conversation/

Freedom of Expression: Lee Grant on Sunday, Aug 2nd, at 2:35 PM in San Francisco.


At the age of 25, Queens native Lee Grant (born Lyova Haskell Rosenthal) had it all. After studying at the prestigious Actors Studio, she became an acclaimed Broadway star, then quickly catapulted into international fame with both a Cannes Best Actress win and an Oscar nomination for her screen debut in William Wyler’s 1951 Detective Story. But in an instant it was over. After passionately accusing the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) of driving a blacklisted screenwriter friend to his death, Grant opened the notorious anticommunist rag Red Channels one day to discover that she had been branded a Communist subversive. Yet in the 1960s the actress beat the blacklist, first with the popular prime-time soap Peyton Place, followed by her second Oscar nomination in Norman Jewison’s 1967 Best Picture–winning In the Heat of the Night. Grant’s creative rebirth continued through the 1970s with another Oscar nomination for Hal Ashby’s The Landlord and her 1975 Best Supporting Actress win for Ashby and Warren Beatty’s celebrated LA comedy of manners Shampoo. In 1980, she directed her first feature Tell Me a Riddle based on Tillie Olsen’s novella. Grant holds nothing back in her live-to-tell memoir, I Said Yes to Everything, yet another achievement for this actress, director, producer and this year’s recipient of the SFJFF Freedom of Expression Award. – Thomas Logoreci

Lee Grant appears in person to accept her award and participate in an onstage discussion of her career in conjunction with a 35th anniversary screening of Tell Me a Riddle.

Following the screening of Tell Me A Riddle, join Lee Grant on the Mezzanine of the Castro. She will be signing copies of her memoir I Said Yes to Everything. For more information and to purchase tickets: http://sfjff.org/2015/events/freedom-of-expression-lee-grant/

More information about the SF Jewish Film Festival visit:

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